By Rachel Brody |
With gasoline prices averaging $3.65 in the Lower 48 states and unemployment around 9 percent, Alaska is here to help. We can offer relief to consumers at the pump, provide good-paying jobs in Alaska and the Lower 48, and help reduce our $14 trillion deficit.
The oil and gas resources of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are enormous and lie just 65 miles east of the prolific Prudhoe Bay reservoirs and infrastructure.
The latest estimates from the USGS are for up to 10 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil. Over the years, there have been competing estimates of how many jobs in Alaska and in the Lower 48 supply chain that development would create. Needless to say, all of them are at least in the tens of thousands.
Today's extended-reach drilling technology has shrunk drilling pad footprints dramatically. Well pads on the North Slope from the 1970s that covered 65 acres now take up less than 10. Drilling cuttings and muds are now disposed of by injection wells. While development will always have impacts, we can do a good job today of responsibly producing more domestic oil, which promotes both our economic and national security.
I know the question was about ANWR, but we shouldn't lose sight of the tremendous potential elsewhere in Alaska. It is a potential I believe we're close to realizing. The USGS estimates 24 billion barrels of oil and more than 100 TCF of natural gas technically recoverable in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.
The University of Alaska's Institute for Social and Economic Research estimates 54,000 jobs created from Alaskans working in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, including all the support and manufacturing jobs stretching from Alaska to the Lower 48. Over the 50-year life of the fields, that means about $154 billion--billion with a B--in payroll, and $200 billion to the federal treasury.
We finally have sustained momentum on exploring these resources. I have every hope that Shell, the first of the leaseholders in the exploration process, will be drilling exploration wells off Alaska's Arctic coast for the first time in nearly 20 years. ConocoPhillips and Statoil are just on their heels with plans for 2013 and 2014.
All of these Alaska resources offer energy and jobs our country needs today, and they can be produced responsibly.
About Mark Begich U.S. Senator
Cindy Shogan Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness League
Edward J. Markey U.S. Congressman
Doc Hastings U.S. Congressman
John Fleming U.S. Congressman
Marilyn Crockett Executive Director of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association
Robbie Diamond Founder, President and CEO of Securing America's Future Energy
Lisa Murkowski U.S. Senator